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Tech Term for Today: User Interface

Tech Term for Today:  User Interface

In basic terms, a User Interface (or sometimes commonly shortened to UI), is the system in which people interact with machines.  In the technology environment, a user interface is the part of the program where the user types something in, and the program, or app, responds.

An example of a UI is the Facebook Timeline.  The Timeline allows the user to interact with the program, whether it be scrolling through the Timeline to read the postings, or clicking in the Update Status box, typing an message and then clicking Post.

A command-driven UI is one in which the user types commands, such as the old DOS screens.  Those of you born after 1990 probably don’t know what DOS is.  A menu driven interface is one where the user selects choices from various menu’s on the screen.  A graphical user interface (GUI) is one that uses windows, icons, or pop-up menu’s.  It has become the standard.

A poorly written UI will not hold the users interest and they will quickly discard the program, or app.  It is critical when developing apps that the UI be as pleasant and user friendly as possible.  The UI is the piece of your app that will either make or break the app.

I think of the iPad as being a device with a great UI.  Just about anyone, young or old, can pick up an iPad and intuitively know how to operate it.  The Android devices, and the Kindle Fire are equally as intuitive.    They are all examples of great UI design.

If you are thinking of developing an app or a website, UI is one of the most important areas to study, design, and get right.  Google User Interface Design for lots of hints and tips on creating your killer UI.

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